Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
Caitlyn Jackson, 12, a sixth-grader at Battle Creek Lakeview Middle School, died on Saturday night after a long bout with leukemia. In her honor several of her classmates showed up in school Monday morning with donning t-shirts with Caitlyn’s favorite color (blue) and orange, which is the official color honoring leukemia victims.
Many of the shirts bore Caitlyn’s name. Some were homemade while others were purchased at fundraisers and benefits held in Caitlyn’s honor. All were worn because students wanted to express their sympathy to Caitlyn’s family as well as pay tribute to their deceased classmate.
My son is a sixth-grader and I can only imagine how he would react to his classmate passing. I’m sure he would be one of the several dozen who wore the honorary shirts. I’m sure he would feel really bad that someone of such a young age was taken by God.
My only wish is that Lakeview administrators understood this. What did they do when the young students showed up at school Monday morning? Rather than offering consoling words, they demanded the students wear their shirts inside out or tape over the name, Caitlyn.
Can you believe this? I guess compassion is at a premium in Battle Creek. Apparently administrators decided Sunday night that they would ban the t-shirts. According to Amy Jones, the Lakeview finance director, actin as district chief while Superintendent Dave Peterson- yes former Farwell superintendent Dave Peterson, was out of the country exploring a possible student exchange program.
I know Peterson, and I refuse to believe he was behind this decision.
The administrators, however , failed to inform parents of the decision. Jones said the decision was based on its crisis management plan the specifically bars “permanent memorials” on the research-backed belief that memorials can remind students of their grief and, for some, can make it worse.
“The intent was designed to protect the interests of all children,” explained Jones.
I have one reaction- POPPYCOCK!!! This appears to be a policy full of mumbo-jumbo. If other school districts adhere to this crap, I would suggest an immediate review. It appears to be too much research and not enough reality.
Jones went on to say the issue was handled “compassionately.” When students were asked to turn their shirts inside out they were told to keep Caitlyn’s name close to their heart.
I don’t view that as compassionate at all. Compassion would be for teachers and administrators to wear similar shirts honoring Caitlyn. For chrissake, the supposed compassionate administrators actually sent one student to detention for wearing a Caitlyn shirt.
That student, 11-year-old Jaidyn Bellinger said, “It made me feel really bad that I couldn’t express myself for Caitlyn. I wanted to let people know how bad it feels to lose someone like that.”
To make matters worse, Caitlyn’s mom, Melinda Jackson, is an employee of the school district. She was extremely distraught over the t-shirt episode. “That hurt me to the point that I didn’t think I could be hurt anymore.”
As a footnote, Facebook was abuzz with parents calling for the ouster of administrators who made the decision. I too would expect some type of disciplinary action at the least. Those administrators acknowledged later that their good intentions (?) backfired.
Even Jones admitted their decision caused more disruption that if we had let the kids wear the shirts in the first place. Ya think? Again what were you yo-yo’s thinking? Later, on Tuesday, administrators rescinded their decision, and allowed students to wear the tribute-adorned t-shirts.
I say too little too late. Peterson is going to have to think twice the next time he wants to take a trip outside the country.